Thursday, March 5, 2009

ACK-088: Megasthenes

ACK Description:

Megasthenes was among the first foreigners to have visited India in historical times and given an eyewitness account of conditions prevailing in this country during the fourth century B.C. He was the ambassador of Seleucus Nicator at the court of Chandragupta Maurya and he had the opportunity to travel extensively in the country and observe closely the proceedings at the royal court, various aspects of military and civil administration, the geography of the country, the social and economic conditions of the people and the political institutions. He put down his observations in four volumes entitled 'Indica'. 'Indica' in its original form has now been lost, but some later writers like Diodorus, Pliny, Strabo and Arrian have quoted from the work. Barring the few instances where Megasthenes had to rely on hearsay, his account of India is highly valued for its accuracy and authenticity. This story of Megasthenes is based on his own account of India of his times. For purposes of coherence and lucidity we have adopted a sequence of our own to this narration. However, historically the record is accurate.

(30 pages, 1200 px wide, 8.6 MB) 
Script: Shubha Khandekar
Illustrations: Souren Roy
Cover: Ramesh Umrotkar

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Info from Wikipedia

Megasthenes (Μεγασθένης, ca. 350 BC - 290 BC) was a Greek traveller and geographer. He was born in Asia Minor and became an ambassador of Seleucus I of Syria to the court of Sandrocottus (Chandragupta Maurya) of India, in Pataliputra. However the exact date of his embassy is uncertain. Scholars place it before 288 BC, which was the date of Chandragupta's death.

Arrian explains that Megasthenes lived in Arachosia, with the satrap Sibyrtius, from where he visited India:

"Megasthenes lived with Sibyrtius, satrap of Arachosia, and often speaks of his visiting Sandracottus, the king of the Indians." Arrian, Anabasis Alexandri [1]

We have more definite information regarding the parts of India which Megasthenes visited. He entered the country through the district of the Pentapotamia of the rivers of which he gave a full account (thought to be the five affluents of the Indus, forming the Punjab region), and proceeded from there by the royal road to Pataliputra. There are accounts of Megasthenes having visited Madurai (then, a bustling city and capital of Pandya Kingdom), but appears not to have visited any other parts of India. His observations were recorded in Indika, a work that served as an important source to many later writers such as Strabo and Arrian. He describes such features as the Himalayas and the island of Sri Lanka. He also described India's caste system.



Dhaval said...

First :-)

Thanks for wonderful scans TPH.. Prelude was also great as ever..

TPH said...

@Dhaval: yes indeed :-)

You are welcome. Prelude is taken from the ACK itself. Its there on the very last page of comic. So, I am not the one to be credited for this.

But I liked this story. It's amazing to notice what this country was once.

Anonymous said...

thank you!

Nice story about India.

Demonoid Fan

TPH said...

@Demonoid Fan: Welcome. The literary works of ancient (and medieval) foreign travellers to India are the only authentic sources of information accepted worldwide about the glorious ancient cultural roots of India. Unfortunately there was no such tradition here in this country to keep the historical records in black and white. So a lot of information is available only through the accounts of foreign travellers.

I intend to post a full series on related matter, e.g., Fa Hien and Hiuen Tsang etc.

Thank you for your support.

Unknown said...

Great job as usual. Am going in for 1 TB disk drive now that my pile of comics is growing by the day!! Thx for so many things!! More strength to u guys!! - J

PS : Am presently based in Gurgaon. Anytime close to my locality just holler. You deserve one free lunch at the least!!

TPH said...

oldmanmozz: Thanks and welcome. Go for 1 TB and we try and make sure you have another replacement in short time. :-)

Thanks for the offer. Let's continue on the feast of our favourite comics till the offer is materialised.

Anonymous said...

@ The Phantom Head: You're right! It's too bad that the ancient Indians did not maintain proper records.

Let's hope they solve the puzzle of the Indus Valley language. Maybe then we could have some interesting accounts eh?

Demonoid Fan

TPH said...

@Demonoid Fan: Very true. Deciphering those ancient Indian scripts holds the key to solve many mysteries. They can throw light on various aspects of human life in those early days in this country.

But still there was no such tradition here to have proper historians who could record day to day events. Some other civilizations, thought not as old as harappan, have maintained such records.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely wonderful. You people are doing top class job. God bless.


TPH said...

@Avijit: Thanks and welcome. More are coming very soon.

Dhaval said...

@TPH and Demonoid Fan..

I am not a good history student, never was, but I remember that we had fantastic libraries a couple of thousand years ago till late 12th century AD.

I also recall Fa-hien (or Huen Tsang?) mentions about Nalanda and Taxisla having rich libraries including historical evidences in his/their travelogue.

As we know these great universities were burnt down and all the records were lost with them.

However, that's history and we can not change it, What I feel bad is, conservation of the historical places in India is not a point of concern.. you visit any ancient temple or monument and you will find people have carved their names on the wall.. the maintenance is poor and many places are yet to be included in Archeological survey's list. These places are like centuries old evidences of how our ancestors lived and how rich in culture and heritage they were.. We inherited them and must preserve for generations to come.

Sorry, I got carried away from the topic :-)

Vedic period, we had a tradition of "Shruti" and it was not until between 5th to 3rd Century BC our ancestors started writing anything down..all we have from that period is Vedas.. and as we know, they are more spiritual knowledge base than a historical account. But they do provide some details on traditions, culture and life style of that era.

Let's hope some one will crack the Indus Valley Civilization's script code soon..

TPH said...

@Dhaval: I think you're right. It's a sad episode from our history that a cultured and well culminated prosperous civilization had to suffer in the hands of barbaric invaders. Great Indian Universities of ancient India also bore the brunt of rude and violent attackers who didnot value any art form.

I also share your thoughts on the conditions of present day tourist places in our country. I would like to add to this my concern over the treatment of visitors at few places. It's a matter of great shame for us.

About Vedic period, you have said everything and I fully agree.

adibud34 said...

Awesome, TPH! Thanks so much for this comic - it was heartbreaking to see how great we used to be! I wish we could reclaim that glory sometime soon!

TPH said...

@adibud34: welcome Aditya. Those who ignore history, repeat the mistakes previously made by them. Many lessons can be learnt from our history.

Thanks for your visit and communication.

vikki said...

Thanks :)